Community & School News April 2016

Important School Dates
April 5-7 – NY State ELA Exams
April 8-12 – NY State ELA Exams Make-up Dates
April 13-15 – NY State Mathematics Exams
April 18-20 – NY State Mathematics Exams Make-up Dates
April 25 -29 – Spring Recess (Public Schools Closed)

Comic Con in Staten Island
Fans of the pop culture festival Comic Con won’t have to wait until the wildly popular convention hits the Jacob Javits Center later this year to get their comic book fix. New Dorp High School will be hosting its own version of Comic Con for the first time next month. The event will be held on May 21 from noon to 5pm and will include vendors, comic book displays, comic book and pop culture artwork, Dungeons & Dragons, local artists, student artwork, various panels and presenters, a costume contest, cosplay, and a student created graphic novel. All proceeds from the event will be used for school funding.

“This is very exciting for the New Dorp High School community. There is quite a buzz already. We pride ourselves on planning instructional initiatives that are somewhat outside the box, and this would be one such event,” New Dorp High School Principal Deirdre DeAngelis said in a statement. “It is a bit nerve-wracking because it is the first of its kind in a public school, and I wonder if our participants and visitors will compare our event to the huge comic book events in New York City and San Diego.”

Discovery Days at Freshkills Park
Have you discovered the new Freshkills Park yet? If not, here’s your chance! The park is offering free Discovery Day events on May 15th and June 26th from 11am to 4pm. During these events, 700 acres of the otherwise closed site will be open for tours and recreation, and eight miles of trails and paths will offer views of the park’s hills, creeks, and wildlife. A 5K course will be mapped out for runners and walkers. There will also be shuttle buses into the park and a shuttle to and from the top of a hill that offers panoramic views of New York City. Parking will be just outside Freshkills Park in the lots near 350 Wild Avenue in Staten Island. From there, visitors can take a shuttle bus or walk or bike one mile to the main hub. A free shuttle will also make trips to and from the St. George Ferry Terminal Ramp E (Taxi Stand) during the event.

At 2,200 acres, Freshkills Park is almost three times the size of Central Park and the largest park to be developed in New York City in over 100 years. It also has a significant history as the site of the former Fresh Kills Landfill, which was the largest landfill in the world before closing in 2001. Since then, the landfill has been covered with layers of soil and infrastructure, and the site has become a place for wildlife, recreation, science, education, and art. As the park is built in phases, free tours and events provide access for learning and exploration opportunities. Be sure to check our event calendar to get updated info on all events at Freshkills Park. Get more information on Freshkills Park here.

High Rock Park Challenge
Grab a buddy and get ready to rock the competition! The 2016 High Rock Challenge Adventure Race will be held on Saturday, April 30. Held in memory of NYPD Officer John Kelly, two-member teams must run together at all times and compete in mystery events located throughout the approximately 10k course. Click here to link to the registration form. If you are interested in volunteering to assist with handing out refreshments and directing the runners, call 718-667-2165 ext. 311.

Message in a Bottle
A local artist was thrilled to learn that a message in a bottle he heaved from the shores of Wolfe’s Pond Beach in 2013 washed up in France last month. Artist George Booruji launched the bottle as part of an art project called New York Pellagic, which aims to prove just how far garbage travels in the ocean and the impact it has on birds. The message contained the drawing of a bird and a letter with his contact information, and was received by a very surprised couple along France’s southwestern shores.

Shine a Light on Autism
Saturday, April 2 is World Autism Awareness Day. In honor of the day, the group Autism Speaks is encouraging the world to “Light It Up Blue” to spread awareness. The initiative is supported globally, with such iconic landmarks as the Empire State Building, the Leaning Tower of Pisa, and the Sydney Opera House glowing blue in past years. You can show your own support by wearing blue clothes or accessories, switching your outdoor lights to blue bulbs, or sharing your “LIUB” pictures on social media using the hashtag #LIUB. Click here to learn more ways to go blue on April 2 and to learn how you can make a donation to Autism Speaks.

Combating the Heroin Crisis
The heroin crisis in Staten Island and across New York State has reached epidemic proportions, and Assemblyman Michael Cusick is taking it very seriously. He recently announced $30 million will be included in the Assembly Budget Resolution for the coming year to combat the issue. The proposal includes $15 million for treatment and preventative services, $9 million for the post-treatment community to ensure they have the best chance to avoid relapse, and $6 million for patient engagement programs to provide individuals with the information on where to look for the best treatment options available. In addition to the $30 million to expand treatment options for New Yorkers, the Assembly also announced that $2 million will be included to fund Substance Abuse Prevention and Intervention Specialists (SAPIS) in New York City’s schools. This funding was included in last year’s budget, resulting in 22 SAPIS employed across Staten Island schools to educate our students on the dangers of drug abuse and to guide those struggling with addiction on the path toward recovery.

“Maintaining funding for the existing SAPIS in Staten Island’s schools was simply a must. Together with Senator Lanza & Borough President James Oddo, we urged both the Senate & Assembly to include this funding again this year, and I am pleased that our request has been included in this Resolution.” Said Cusick in a statement. “Although I wish we were not at this critical point in the battle against heroin addiction, I am pleased that the Assembly has agreed to include this vital funding to help those who are battling this disease. Unfortunately, Staten Island finds itself at the epicenter of this crisis and it has been my utmost priority to find ways to beat back the tide of abuse.”

New Dorp HS Students Visit Borough Hall
Last month, after seniors in New Dorp High School wrote to Borough President James Oddo to discuss important issues pertaining to Staten Island as part of a civics project for a government class, they were thrilled to then receive an invitation to talk and visit with Oddo in person. The visit took place on March 2, where they engaged in a conversation about the growing deer population as well as the current opioid epidemic. “It was an amazing opportunity to meet with Mr. Oddo who showed us how government can work. He’s an inspiring individual who really cares about Staten Island,” said student Andrea Diaz.

“The Borough President and his staff did a wonderful thing in inviting the kids to visit and discuss Staten Island issues with him,” said Mr. Benjamin, a teacher at the school. “This experience truly expands their horizons and also can show them that there is not always a perceived disconnect between the government and its community.”

“I walk away from these meetings with a sense of hope. So often we read negative stories in the media about younger generations, and we are painfully aware that our community is battling an opioid epidemic that is negatively affecting too many young people. While we do have challenges, there are also many students like those I met with from New Dorp who are working hard to get into college and dreaming about their future careers and how they will improve our community,” noted the BP.

St. George Day 2016
The annual St. George Day Festival is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year! The local Earth Day and arts celebration will take place Saturday, April 23 from 11am to 5pm in and around Tompkinsville Park. This free North Shore event will include kids’ activities, family oriented fun, outdoor art installations, live music, street performance, crafts, and Earth Day demonstrations. Several of St. George Day’s signature offerings, including Earth Day Zone, Art Around the Park, the Festival Dragon Parade, and the giant 35-foot puppet spectacle, “St. George & the Friendly Dragon,” will again be presented. The Dragon Parade kicks off at 2pm. Organizers are also seeking volunteers to help out on the day of the event. High School students will receive community service credit for their participation. Click here for further details on this exciting Staten Island tradition.

New Charter School Seeks to Open in 2017
The Staten Island Green Charter School is planning to open its doors to K-1 students starting in September 2017. The school is a fully public charter school, partnering with the NYS Department of Conservation and the NYC Parks Department, aiming to integrate STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) learning into the curriculum, as well as robotics, water and pollution research, and recycling. Visit their website here for more information or to link to an application.

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